>> I'm Susan Collins, the Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy here at University of Michigan. And on behalf of the Ford School and our Center for Public Policy in Diverse Societies, I'm delighted to welcome all of you here today. Today is the Ford School's contribution to the Rackham Graduate School Centennial celebrations and the centennial lecture series was designed to showcase both the diversity and the extensive and really impressive quality of the intellectual legacy that the University of Michigan's graduates have had. There are over 60 graduate programs hosting a centennial lecture over this month and again, we're delighted that you are joining us here today for this one. We are particularly pleased and really proud to have with us, and to be able to introduce our Rackham centennial speaker and to welcome him back to campus, Angel Harris. We're delighted to have you here with us. The Ford School launched its very innovated joint PhD program in 2001, and Angel was just our second graduate with that new program. His dissertation earned him a Rackham Graduate School distinguished dissertation award back in 2005, and he was the first of our PhD alums to come up for tenure, and he was the very first to get tenure. And I should mention that that tenure was offered at another university, a very fine Ivy League university, so in particular, Angel is Associate Professor of Sociology and African-American studies at Princeton Universities. And again, we are extremely proud of him. He is interested in how perceptions about the opportunity structure and the system of social mobility influence the extent to which people invest in schooling. His research focuses on the social psychological determinacies of the racial achievement gap, and you'll hear a lot more about that today. His first book was entitled Kids Don't Want to Fail: Oppositional Culture and the Black-White Achievement Gap, and it was published by Harvard University Press in 2011. We are very proud of his accomplishments and we eagerly look forward to seeing his work as it continues to take shape and to inform and advance our understanding of educational sociology. I should not that in the program we say that we will be collecting cards for the question and answer part of the session -- in fact, we'll do it more informally, and after his formal remarks, Angel will invited questions from the floor, and then we'll have a, kind of, informal discussion period. And following the remarks, we hope that -- in that session, we hope that many of you will stay and join us for an informal reception as well, but I'll remind you of that later on. So, please join me in welcoming Angel Harris [applause].
>> Angel Harris: So, I want to start off with a little narrative first to give you a sense of why I'm interested in what I'm interested in. So, the problem that I study is the racial achievement gap, and so, I'll begin with a story that will, you know, make it obvious as to why I study this topic. So, I'm from Brooklyn, New York. How many people are from New York? Okay, so, if you're from New York, you realize that, you know, you can --you can live in a certain area of a burrow in New York and really think that the world ends outside of that space, right. So, I grew up in Brooklyn -- downtown Brooklyn, and you have everything you need in downtown Brooklyn. You don't like you're missing anything. So, that's where I grew up, and growing up I was raised by my grandmother, who had an eighth grade education, and my grandfather, who had a third grade education. So, my mom passed away when I was five and so she raised me my sister, and growing up, you know, college wasn't something that we talked about, right. That wasn't something that was part of the story for us. So for her, she just wanted us to finish high school. That was her main goal. So, when I was growing up I didn't really know about colleges and universities, so -- and really, I'd never really ventured outside of Brooklyn. We didn't have a car, which is not uncommon in New York, right. It was the norm. We didn't have a car. We lived in the in the projects, in the low-income housing. For those of you who -- I don't know if you've seen the projects in New York, it's like, you've see The Wire -- the show The Wire on HBO. Okay, that kind of scene. So, that was the scene. And, really, the first time a ventured outside of Brooklyn was when I went to high school. I went to high school called Manhattan Center for Science and Math where proceeded to fail both science and math. And it's on the east side New York, so it's 116th Street and FDR Drive, and so I would take the six train to 116th Street and walk to the FDR Drive, and I did not venture to the west side of Manhattan, so I didn't know was there. Never went to the Bronx, didn't know what was in Queens either, no one knows what's at Staten Island, so that's cool, you know. So, I just knew downtown Brooklyn. That was what I knew. That was my world and then the six train. And when I graduated from high school, in a class of 242 students, my class rank was 217, so that's the 10th percentile. So, thinking back I would say, you know, the counselors -- the guidance counselors at my high school were not concerned with the students, but now I realize no, no, they're probably weren't focused on the 10 percentile -- the students down there, right, so. But that was my experience, and so I did not know about colleges and universities. I knew about Brooklyn College, because we lived in Brooklyn. I knew about LIU -- Long Island University, because they have a campus downtown Brooklyn, but I -- and I knew about NYU, because Theo Huxtable went to NYU, right. But Columbia was a country and I didn't know about like Rutgers or, Arizona State, or University of Michigan. I we found it strange that you were putting the name of a University and name the state together. I didn't know that. I wasn't a college sports fan, so I wouldn't have known that, so colleges weren't on the radar. And so instead, I was looking into trade school to be mortician. I wanted to be a mortician -- really, I wanted to be an embalmer, and I would go to a funeral home, hang around in the back -- there was a funeral home that was nice enough to let me go and watch them embalm people, and that's what I wanted to do. I thought it was something respectable and you tell people you're an embalmer, and people say okay, you know. Doesn't matter what's happening with the economy, you know, you always have a steady stream of business, and so that was what I wanted to do, and so I was looking into this. And I had a friend in high school who had twin aunts -- Denete and Darlene, and they had completed the undergraduate work at Cornell and they said, you know, you should go to college get experience, try it out, see if you like it, so they gave me four applications to complete. One was Grambling State, Morgan State, Hampton, and Lincoln, and Pennsylvania. So, these are all historically black colleges and universities. Now, I had no idea, you know, I didn't know about any colleges outside of Brooklyn, let alone, HBCUs, and know what they were, but I applied. I applied to these schools and Grambling with the only school to accept me. And they accepted me as a -- like, on a conditional basis. First semester was, kind of, you know, probationary student type, because my GPA when I graduated high school was something like a 169. I mean, it was really, really bad. I mean, I was a 10 percentile, but I finished. And so, I wasn't going to go to Grambling because, you know, it's in Louisiana, and remember, I'd never left New York. In fact, the furthest I had been in a car was to Newark International Airport, which back then seem like a long drive, because you generate, you know, you generated some speed in the car where you're going past 55 miles an hour. You don't generate that kind of speed in Brooklyn, unless you're on the BQE, so -- and that's eight miles from Brooklyn. Anyway, so, I wasn't going to go to Grambling and Denete, you know, called me two days before dorms were set to open in August -- this is August of '93, and she says do you want to go to college or not? And I said I don't know how I'm going to pay for it, because I thought at the time that you had to pay all of the money up front because, you know, growing up we never financed anything. We didn't own a car, we paid for everything cash or food stamps, right, so, there's no such thing as, like, the concept of borrowing or loans didn't exist for me, so I thought you had to pay all the money up front and then you attend. And they said no, there's financial aid, you know, that's not how it works, so I said sure, you know, I'll go, and if they we'll -- just pack your bags, we'll work it out. So, I packed my bags I tell my grandmother that I'm going to Grambling State University. Now, this is the first she ever heard Grambling State University was the day that I left for Grambling State University. So, I told her about I'm going to this place called Grambling State University. She says, "Where is it?" And I say it's in Louisiana, and she acted like it was in another country, and I said no, it might as well be, but it's not. She had no idea where it was. The other thing is that, you know, she had never really left -- I mean, her life was lived in this, you know, like, this four block radius, you know. Just there and Puerto Rico and so all this is happening in Spanish. And so she says to me -- so, you know, she had some major concerns. Her primary concerns were one, how are you going to live? How are you going to make it? Two, I was leaving -- I was going off the grid. So, she could place me if I'm going down the street to a friend's house, she could imagine -- she could picture where I'm going to be, but now I was leaving the New York area and she had no concept of where I was going.
And her third primary concern was that I was 17 at the time, so in her mind, you know, you're a minor, what if something happens to you, I could be charged with neglect. So, these were her primary concerns. So, you know, I'm telling her no, you know, it's, going to be okay. They have this thing called financial aid. I'm trying to explain her something that I just learned I and so she was certainly nervous. So, Denete and Darlene show up in a '93 Crown Victoria, they had rented this car. So, it was the two of them with two of their friends from law school. And they show up in this car and I, you know, had my bags packed, and I get in the car and they start driving. And I remember, you know, we stopped in Maryland for gas and I remember thinking man, this is a long way, and we we're four hours into the trip. We had 20 hours left to go. I also remember thinking wow, this is beautiful, and I was talking about I-95, because I had never been on an interstate before. There's no interstate in New York. I mean, 95 cuts across the Bronx, but it doesn't look like -- it doesn't look like an interstate, right. And the BQE certainly doesn't look like an interstate. So, this is the first time where I, you know, had been in a car and saw just hours of just nothing but just what you, you know, just trees and you see that in Prospect Park but, you know that there's a bound to that, right. So, that was just -- that was all new for me. And so, we get to -- 24 hours later, we get to Monroe, Louisiana and, you know, we spend the night in a hotel. Denete and Darlene fund everything. They fund entire trip, and we get there and I remember thinking okay, this is a different world. It's northern rural Louisiana. The white folks were different from any anything that I'd seen before in New York. The black folks were different from anything I'd seen in New York. There were no Asians, there were no Hispanics. It was a different world and, you know, we spend the night, and then the next day we get up, go thirty miles and then we drive to Grambling. And we get to Grambling State, Dente takes me to my dorm room, she checks me in. Darlene comes back -- you know, she disappears for some time, she comes back and says okay, you fill this out for your coursework, you fill this form out for your financial aid, you go stand in this building to register, and they gave me, like -- they gave me $30.00 and after about 45 minutes, they got back in the car and drove to New York, and I was dropped off at Grambling State University in northern rural Louisiana. First time outside of, you know, the Brooklyn East Manhattan, okay. So it was a huge difference, right, and when I got there I thought -- I remember thinking wow, I'm on a college campus, you know, and I and I had the image of -- you know, I see the image of people walking out the building with the backpack on their back talking to someone, and there's grass, and someone's reading, sitting against a tree reading a book, and I say this is a real college campus. I had that image, and so -- so, anyway, so -- and I realized then that a shift had occurred in my life, right, that Denete and Darlene had done something that had really changed the trajectory of my life in a way that I could appreciate after that. Particularly because now I look back and I realize they were young, they were kids, they were children -- excuse me, I'm sorry. Anyway, they changed the context of my life, and so, at the time they were adults, they were grownups to me, but now I look back and I realize they were young kids, you know. So, I got to Grambling and I majored in psychology, and I majored in psychology because I thought you could read people's minds, and so that's why I wanted to major in psych. I've since realized that that's not the case. And I graduated Grambling with a 3.34. It was, you know, a modest GPA, and one of the things that changed was a professor there -- my first psychology class, he gave an example where he said if a child's misbehaving, you can tell people look, Johnny's misbehaving, or you can say in the past hour, Johnny has kicked three kids, slapped four, and punched five, and then you can let them determine whether or not that misbehavior and how much misbehavior that is. So, he essentially operationalized misbehavior for me. And after that, it changed the way I took in knowledge. It was like every time someone talked to me I went through this vast stage where I would always say so and so is nice, what you mean? What do you mean by nice? I wanted them to operationalize what nice meant, right. Tell me what nice is. What's the definition so I can determine how much niceness there is, all right, and it changed my connection to information and how I filtered information -- completely changed it. So, after that I graduated with a BA in psychology, I applied to graduate school and Kansas State University was the only school to accept me, so I went to Kansas State University for a masters in college student personnel work. The stigma of that was weighing on me, so I walked over to the social department before the semester started and I transferred over to sociology, and I received a masters in sociology, and I applied to PhD program in sociology, and Michigan was the only place to accept me. So, I always tell people you only need one school, that's all. So, when I come visit, you know, the grad students are saying what other places are you considering, and people say oh, I'm Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard. And for me it was like, well, my mind's made up. I'm coming to Michigan, you know. And so, I ended up coming to Michigan for PhD in sociology in '99, and then the policy program begins in '01, the joint degree program, and so I was the first cohort in that, and I finished that program in 2005. And when I finished that program, I ended up having a reversal of fortunes. I won the distinguished dissertation award, I took a postdoc and UT Austin recruited me out the postdoc, and so I spent a year on the faculty at University of Texas at Austin, and in my first year there, I was recruited by Princeton at NYU and I ended up going to Princeton. Four years later, I got tenure Princeton, and so that brings us to today. And so, the moral of that story is that I was kid number 217 my graduating class in high school, right, and so, you know, I tell this -- I share this narrative, particularly with teachers because I want them to know that the kids you're are looking at, you never know what's possible, right. So, we have to be able to distinguish probability from possibility. So, with that I'll, sort of, go into what I study. I study the racial achievement gap. At one time, I was contributing to that gap on a negative end, right. I was pulling the mean down for members in my group. And so, what does the gap look like? So, I'm just going to present some background information on the achievement gap. So, here I am sure you the different -- the achievement in reading, math, U.S. History, and geography, and this is based on data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress -- the NAPE, so this is a nationally representative data. And all these bars correspond to twelfth graders, and so what you're seeing is that white twelfth graders are closer to being proficient then black and Hispanic twelfth graders. And all the tests are to scale, so the 300 is considered proficient. So, what you're seeing is that it's a pretty substantial gap, right, so these are whites, these are blacks, these are Hispanics. Now, I'm going to put up a dashed line. The red dashed line corresponds to white eighth graders. So, what you'll notice there is that, on average -- this is four years' worth of growth, right, but what you'll notice is that, on average, black and Hispanic twelfth graders are graduating high school with the same skill sets that whites had in the eighth grade. So, it's a four-year gap. Another way to show you this gap is this way. This is the percent of students at or above basic proficiency level, again, NATE data, so it's nationally representative. And I'm going to highlight the black bar, so what you see is that slightly more than half of blacks are proficient in reading -- twelfth graders. Less than a third are proficient in a math, science, and U.S. History. Hispanics aren't doing too much better. So, the gap is big -- it's a four-year gap. It's pervasive, it spans across a wide range of subjects. Any solution -- you have to think of a solution that's going to cut across a number of subjects. How is it changing over time? Here I'm showing you the gap over time from 1965 to 2000 -- to 2006, but this is based on a study from Hedges and Nowell in 1999, and what they did was they calculated the rate of decline in the gap from '65 to 1992. And so, they're using large national data that were collected by the U.S. government in each of these decades. So, you have the Equal Education Opportunity of 1965, you have the National Longitudinal Survey of 1972, you have High School and Beyond of '80 in 1982, and then you have the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1992. And so, all of these are different samples, they're different exams, so they're different sets of people across time. So, because of that, the tests have been scaled, so we're able to compare how the gap is changing over time among twelfth graders in the U.S. -- black-white gap. They calculated that the rate of decline is .12-point standard deviations per decade. So, all you have to know is how many times will it take you to subtract this from this number to reach zero and that's how many decades it would take to reach gap convergence reading. So, roughly, five to six decades to accomplish gap convergence in reading, given the rate decline from '65 to '92. Here's the same information in math -- .08 standard deviations, so essentially, it's going to take, roughly, 10 decades for the gap to close in math, given to rate decline from '65 to '92. 10 decades -- little more than a century, for the gap to close in math, given the rate decline, again, absent any major intervention. But these projections stop early '90s.
What has happened since the early to mid-'90s? Here I'm showing you the gap on perhaps the most consequential of all exams. This is the gap on the SAT, this is reading, and the scores are not important. What's important are the trends. Here you have whites, Asian-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and blacks. The lines are parallel. Essentially, there's no convergence. So, whatever convergence I showed you in the previous graphs, we haven't begun to cut into those because the convergence is a stalled. So, this is reading and this is math. The good news is that the No Child Left Behind Act tells us that the gap is going to close by 2014, so right around here, these lines are going to converge, you know, they just haven't unfolded the planned yet, but it's coming, because that's the goal of the Act. But what that shows you is that there's a -- perhaps there's a large disconnect between the goal that politicians may set and the data, right. Given these data, there's no way you could expect the gap to close by 2014, absent any major intervention. And so, this is a problem that, I think, is one that we don't respect enough. This is -- as I showed you from the trends, you can see that it's going to take six decades for the gap to close in reading, and, roughly, 10 in math. Even if you don't believe that, even if you cut that in half, the point is that it's ridiculous to think that it's going to close within the next four years of anybody's political term, all right. We would never walk into an oncologist's office and say you've been working on cancer for all these years, millions of dollars in research, give us the cure by next week. We would never do that because we respect that problem. This is a problem similar to that one in the sense of, you know, how long it's going to take for convergence to be achieved. The gap also extends beyond testing. So, this is the gap in terms of GPA. So, this is GPA for whites in 2001 and 2011, national -- again, national dataset. This is SAT test takers. This is for Asians. That's the gap -- I'm sorry, that's the achievement -- that's the GPA in '01 and 2011 for Hispanics and blacks. So, this is the average GPA, right here. The line represents the average GPA for all kids. So, what you see is that the gap is there in terms of grades as well, okay. Why this is important? I'm showing you the percent of the white U.S. population and percent non-white. This was in 2000, 70% of population was white, 2010 64%, and these are projected, and what you see is that by, roughly, 2040, half your population are going to be comprised of non-whites. Even if, in this 49%, you have some Asian-Americans, let's give them 10%, you can't have nearly half your population of 40% of population walking around with eighth grade skillset, on average. There's no way that doesn't affect everyone. Who were they going to sell their homes to? So, what are some explanations put forward for this gap? Well, some people have suggested that the gap is genetic that, essentially, blacks and Hispanics have a different stock of genes that don't allow them to learn, and so this was put forward by Arthur Jensen, and it was also -- resurfaced with the bell-shaped curve. There's a famous book named Sociology of Education, but, you know, at one point I used to say that this is no longer taken seriously. However, there are a group of researchers who, I think, are headed in this direction. There's a group of people out of UNC Chapel Hill. Apparently, we've we found a way to have genes in datasets, and so for people who are social scientists quantitative researchers, there's some datasets that now have gene genetic biomarkers in them, where they code people's, you know, gene, whatever 01 or 2 and have a thousand genes -- particularly in ad health, they have a thousand genes. And so, now what happens is that you have some social scientists playing geneticist and now they're trying to use this to predict certain social behaviors and, you know, it's only a matter of time before they get to the part where they say ah, there it is, we found the gene to explain intelligence. We can talk about that more in the Q and A though. Also, there's -- another explanation is that the gap is due to differences in resources, whether it's socioeconomic resources of the family, whether it's school funding, whether it's difference in family structure, anything related to resources. This explanation doesn't fully -- it doesn't fully account for the gap because you go into Princeton or Shaker Heights or Prince George's County, these are fluent school districts, and you still have a gap. And so, the gap still exists in places where you have affluence and wealthy school districts and wealthy families. So, there's still a gap. This explains, roughly, a third of the gap. This is a substantial proportion of the gap, but there's still two-thirds of the gap left. Then there's bias in testing. This is one that -- this is a tricky one, bias in testing. A lot of people -- most people think that they understand what this is, so I want to ask someone a question here. Could anyone just tell me what they think bias in testing means? How do you understand this explanation? Yes.
>> [Inaudible audience response].
>> Angel Harris: Right and usually because...
>> [Inaudible audience response].
>> Angel Harris: That's right, that's right and there's some cultural tools that they're familiar with that black people are not and so, okay. That's what most people think about bias in testing, okay. So, I'm going to give you an example and I want to see if this, I don't know, changes how you think of it. So, here's a question that I want everyone to read. So, the actor's bearing on stage seemed blank; her movements were natural and her technique blank. The answer is C. The actors being on stage seemed unstudied, her movements were natural and her technique uncontrived. That's the correct answer. Is that question racially biased? You know the answer is yes. It's biased against whites and not blacks. Question is biased against whites. Every year the ETS, you know, they make the SAT. I think they make the GRE, the MCAT, LSAP. There are a roster of questions that are on the exam, right. There's a roster that they draw from to put on the exam. Anytime there's an exam, there's never a completely new set of questions. That's too risky, right, because we believe that we have the questions that are adequately measuring what we believe we're supposed to be measuring, right, so, when we're going to introduce new questions, they have to introduce one new item, right, and then how do you measure how that item performs? You have to see how it performs relative to the other items that we know are measuring what we think they're measuring, right, okay.
Each individual SAT question ETS chooses is required to parallel the outcomes of the test overall. So, high-scoring test-takers -- who are more likely to be white, tend to answer the question correctly in pretesting, it's a worthy SAT question. If not, it's thrown out. Race and ethnicity are not considered explicitly, but racially disparate scores drive question selection, which in turn reproduces racially disparate test results in an internally reinforcing cycle. This looks like a typical SAT verbal question, yet this question differs from others in one important respect, according to ETS, 8% more African-Americans than whites answered this question correctly. I call this a black preference question. I don't know why blacks did better here, but nearly all SAT questions capture something about race that can't be determined until pretesting. Because it favored blacks, who score lower on the test overall, this actor's bearing question, which was pretested by ETS in 1998, did not favor high scores and therefore was rejected for use on the SAT. If we come up with an exam and -- if we come up with an exam and everyone in here takes the exam, and we identify all the questions for which females scored higher than males, for which a greater percentage of females got the question correct than males, and we only selected those questions, you're going to have a gender gap, and over time, it will look like this. And this makes sense to me. Makes total sense after you understand the notion of a new question has to be highly correlated with the rest of the exam. That's the racial bias. So, it's not necessarily that the question has some cultural question that blacks aren't exposed to, but it's that there are some math questions, that for whatever reason, black people get correct at a higher rate than why people, Hispanics get correct, and because it doesn't correlate with the rest of the exam, it's thrown away. So, you know, this changes how we think about meritocracy -- the test scores are right, and affirmative action -- get the high test score.
You know, if the scores only -- if the questions that make it are the ones that I, my group sees, then I like the system I want to keep that. Okay, so, it should make you think, huh? Then another explanation is culture deficiency. The fact that the gap has been around for so long just makes people think that well, it must be that blacks don't want to learn, right. That blacks themselves are resistant to educational goals. And so, that's what I study. That's what my area of research is. So, in the past decade, this theory has moved from the academy into the mainstream press. So, for example, you have Thomas Sowell who wrote that, "The most painful of the new developments has been the growth of an attitude in ghetto schools across the country that trying to learn is acting white." Then you have Brent Staples in New York Times who wrote, "Some education experts demean the gifted program as elitist and unfair. Even rival students get into the act, harassing the school's achievers for acting white." You have Bob Herbert in the New York Times who wrote, "Some African-Americans, unable to extricate themselves from the quicksand of self-defeat, have adopted the incredibly stupid tactic of harassing fellow blacks who have the temerity to take their studies seriously. According to the poisonous logic of the harassers, any attempt at acquiring knowledge is a form of acting white." And then you have President Obama who said, " Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach our kids to learn. They know that parents have to teach, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television set and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white." They know those things. So, this is a really, really popular narrative that exists, that black students, and Latinos, resist educational goals. And so, that's what I work on. And so, I'm not going to go into the Xs and Os -- football term. I'm not going to go into the nuts and bolts of the research and the findings, and I'll cover some that on the talk on Monday, but today I just want to, sort of, just introduce the topic and also give you a sense of what I find. And so, the theory, basically, says that the reason why you have this achievement gap is, you have to understand how groups are incorporated into a society, and so you have a dominant group, but then you also have groups that are voluntary minorities. These are groups who willing come to the host country in search of better opportunity. So, because of that, they see education as a way of getting ahead and any obstacles they experience they say oh, this is because the language, we're different, we'll overcome these obstacles. But then you have involuntary minority. These are groups who are incorporated via colonization, conquering, or slavery. And so, because of this, they have a long-term history of being discriminated against by the dominant group. They don't receive the same rewards as the dominant group for their educational credentials. Just think blacks pre-Civil Rights Movement. So, as a result why invest in a system that's not going to reward you to the same degree as the dominant group. So, if you do in fact, you're acting like a dominant group, i.e. you're acting white. And so instead, what Ogbu suggests is -- who wrote this framework and came up with this framework within the literature of education, what he suggests is that blacks invest -- they instead invest their efforts in things that they're going to fine rewarding, such as physical or verbal dueling. I think he means sports and hip-hop, but that's -- I don't know. So, this is the achievement gap here. This is -- I'm showing you how I visually represent this. This is the achievement gap. So, the groups differ on achievement, and the groups meaning voluntary or involuntary, or you can have Asian-Americans, whites, blacks. The groups differ on achievement. And the reason why they differ on achievement is because they have different academic orientation. Academic orientation meaning anything -- your attitude, your disposition toward education, your approach, your behavior to education, and so, because some groups have worse academic orientation than others, they have lower achievement. And now why do ghouls differ on academic orientation. Well, the reason why they differ is because they have different experiences with the opportunity structure, right. So, young blacks are not bewitched by the rhetoric a legal opportunity. They hear another side of the story at the dinner table, and so as such, because you hear your parents and friends talk about their experiences in the opportunity structure, that has implications for how youth themselves perceive opportunities, which in turn has implications for their investment in academics. So, this is the framework. And so, in a book that I -- in my first book Kids Don't Want To Fail, this was the model that I was testing throughout the book, and so this is not intended to be a path diagram. Instead it's a theoretical framework and each path -- each chapter, tested a path, so each path was a chapter, essentially. So, the book goes path by path, testing each link to see where that the breaks down, and I find that the theory does break down, and so again, I'm skipping a lot of the technical stuff, but in one study, I compare blacks and whites on a series of measures, and by the wording of the measure, you can predict whether or not blacks should be higher or lower. So, blacks should have lower education aspirations, they should like school less, they should seek help when having trouble in class less, they should do these things more.
And what I found is everything in blue goes against the framework, and everything in red goes in the direction of the framework. So, this is your theory. Only two out of 24 outcomes go in a direction your theory predicts. You have to be incredibly unlucky for the findings to come out this way. And so, I'm moving ahead here. What some proponents of the theory say is that you can't believe what blacks say on surveys, because they're always going to say what the dominant ideology is. They're going to say oh, yeah, we love education. Education is good. So, it reflects wishful thinking. They don't match their aspirations with effort. If they really believed education was important, they would try harder and have higher grades. And so, this was termed up attitude-achievement paradox that blacks consistently express greater reverence toward education than whites. But the issue is not straightforward because, despite the fact that blacks have this antagonistic view towards getting ahead, it's those who have succeeded academically -- those are the ones that have the worst views about what education do. Those are the ones who are hitting their head against the glass ceiling, but they've already invested. And so, one of the things I did in another study was I examined racial differences on the value kids attribute to schooling and I found that blacks attribute more value to schooling than whites, but then they also attribute more barriers that schooling can't overcome than whites as well, right. And when I looked at how these attitudes are predictive of achievement, I found that the attitudes about the value of schooling matter for grades, but perception of barriers was inconsequential. Whether the findings are run -- the finding were run for blacks and whites. So, in other words, perception of barriers did not have an impact on kids' investment -- or decision to invest in schooling. So, I'm skipping here. So, what I found over time is that the theory -- I could not find support for the framework and in the book I used six datasets. Two of the datasets were from the United Kingdom, because I thought maybe I'm on a different -- I'm on the wrong continent, so let me see if I can find support for another country, and six datasets over 160 measures, and I could not find support for the framework. I tested it by race, by class, by gender, and it never panned out. And so, this perhaps is the reason why it didn't pan out. The question is not whether or not blacks have an oppositional culture. The question is whether the achievement gap can be attributed to an oppositional culture among blacks. It's a different question. So, what I noticed is that the theory usually at kids during adolescence. It's the fifth, sixth, seventh graders where you say oh, we're starting to see oppositional culture. Look, you know, you're starting to see the attitudes, right, so around fifth, sixth grade. But the thing is that you have skill sets that are -- the kids come into that stage with and that's related to race. It has implications for the academic orientation and it has implications for the achievement gap and it predicts achievement. So, basically, what I'm saying is that learning is a longitudinal thing. You can't jump to high school or adolescence and say oh look, oppositional culture there it is that's why they're failing. There's something that happens before that stage in life. Tyson indicates that achievement is central to the development of academic behaviors early in the schooling process. To the extent that oppositional behaviors are influenced by prior academic skills. The failure to account for prior skills leads to the effects of behaviors to be overestimated. And so, oppositional culture cannot adequately explain a racial difference in achievement. It is not adapted to account for how learning is entwined with development. And so, this is the last thing I'll show you here. This is the achievement gap NELS national representative data. So, this is the achievement gap for blacks and Asians relative to whites. So, what I'm showing you is that the average for whites is 20 and for ages is 22. I'm showing the plus two, okay, so that's the plus two and this is the minus eight. And this is after accounting for background factors. That's the gap. What does the gap look like in 12th grade? What would the gap look like if the kids behaved similarly during high school like that? 13% of the gap. So, schooling behavior explains 13% of the black white gap. What would the gap look like if they came into high school the same skillset? 70% of the gap. So, if you ask me would you prefer for blacks to behave the same way as whites during high school or to come into high school with the same skillset, I would opt for the same skillset. Fall of kindergarten -- this is whites, so again, whites aren't -- they don't average a zero. Let's say they average a 20. I'm just showing you the plus and the minus. So, this is white achievement. Asian-Americans, blacks, fall of kindergarten, reading. What happens when you control for social class? This is based on research from Fryer and Levitt, so it's not something that I conducted. I simply plotted their -- I created a graph for their findings. When you -- when they control for social class, this is the gap in the fall of kindergarten -- Asians, blacks, whites. What this means is that when you compare children who are similarly situated with regard to social class, there's a gap with whites being toward bottom. Now, when we maintain that comparison group, where social class is the same for all groups, and we move across time, here's what happens. Spring of kindergarten, spring the first grade, spring of third grade. That's reading and that's math. CDS, and that's Child Development Supplement to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. This is the Woodcock-Johnson exam. This is not panel -- this is not panel data, but what you see is that blacks not different from whites in reading, this is first grade, second grade, third, fourth, fifth it steadies out, same thing in math. So, here's my last slide. So, here you have two kids at birth -- white kid, black kid. First six years of life you see growth. This is reflecting -- the X-axis is time, this -- the Y-axis is growth development. Here's a school -- they're entering the school system. This is what happens. They're most similar when they enter. They start to diverge after they've entered the school system. This is what should happen. So, a lot of this is summarized in the book -- in the book Kids Don't Want To Fail, but the main message here is that if I were to walk into a high school with John Ogbu, he would say look oppositional culture. There it is. We could go to Detroit, worst school you could find, he would say there it is, oppositional culture, and he would see a lot of oppositional culture, and I would say I see the same thing you see. He would say see, the kids are avoiding high-level courses. They don't want to take calculus. And I would say yeah, they can't take calculus because they didn't learn algebra. You're asking them to go through a ninth grade curriculum and they have fifth grade skillset. That's what you're seeing. Unless you believe that in the first grade kids are turning to each other saying hey man, let's fail because we're not going to get rewarded to the same extent as whites, you know, let's screw this whole system. Unless you believe they're saying that in the first grade, oppositional culture cannot be the reason for the achievement gap. And that is the message that I've been trying to say, right, but people are blinded by what they see. I see oppositional culture. Look, the pants hanging down, look at that. You know, I'm not saying the kids don't have this culture that's counter whatever -- counterproductive. It's counterproductive because they're not doing well, so I'm not saying that that's not the case. I'm saying that that's not the reason for the gap. It can't be, the gap was there before. So, with that I'll stop and take questions.
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>> Angel Harris: Yep.
>> So, what are some of the reasons, in terms of your research? What does your research [inaudible]?
>> Angel Harris: So, the question -- what are some of the reasons for the gap? What are some of the things that my research point out? So, at this point, I think that the problem is really complicated, and so I have not -- I have not even begun to go into why -- what are the causes the gap, right. I've spent the last five, six years saying look, this is a distraction. It's not this -- it's not this. So, this is related to this culture deficiency narrative that exists, right. And so, this is this is my first book. My second book is on parental involvement and, you know, the reason why we have a gap -- here's the narrative. The No Child Left Behind suggests that in order to close the gap, we have to get more parents involved. That's one of the six goals -- one of the six major features of that Act is to involve parents. What -- so, let's carry that through. You have a gap, black is at the bottom, one of the ways to close it is to involve parents. That means that the parents of these kids are going to be involved in a way that bring up their achievement, or that the reason that you have this gap is because they're not involved, right, so that's part -- that's getting at this narrative. The title of the book is The Broken Compass. Is social policy on parental involvement misguided? The answer is yes, right, the answer is yes. In essence, what I find that book is that I have -- I used four datasets from K-12 and over 60 measures of parental involvement. Some examples are help your kid with homework, read to the child, have a rule about GPA, have a rule about homework, talk to the child about high school. Those things you can do at home. Have a set of measures about school. Are you a PTL member? You know, how often do you talk to the teacher? You know, parent-teacher conference, a bunch of measures. So, if you put these 63 measures -- if you line them up, and let's pretend that they're policy buttons that you can push, right, the parental involvement movement would say push all of them, right. Just be involved in your kids' lives. Just be involved, just push all of them.
What the findings show is that if you push -- of the 60, maybe about six are related to increasing achievement, maybe about 15 are related to declines in achievement, and the rest are not related to achievement at all. And these findings are run separately for each racial group. So, I run them just for white kids, then just for blacks, then just for Mexican-American, then just for non-Hispanic Mexicans -- I'm sorry, non-Mexican Hispanics, then for two groups of Asian-Americans -- model minority Asians, you know, the Chinese, Japanese, and then the southeast Asians, the, sort of, more disadvantaged group. Run it separately for each group, and you find a difference set mattered for each group. You know, for whites it might be this one, this one, and that one, and for blacks it might be this one, that one, and this one. There is no one-size-fits-all set of things that just do this and it's going to work for all kids. Why do we think that? It's insane. Well, to me, it looks and sounds the same, but there's no one-size-fits-all. And so, essentially, what I've been doing is I've been taking on these, kind of, large narratives that exist about cultural deficiency and saying is there something to this? What does the data say with regard to this? And so, I'm spending a lot of my time taking the big distractions off the table and saying let's move this aside and let's have a real focal discussion. So, I haven't gotten to that part yet. Long answer, but it's coming. Yeah.
>> So, for those of us who don't study education policy, what can you tell us about -- I guess, what could be termed the expectation gap? So, I would assume that folks receive different sorts of teaching and training based on what a teacher expects of them, so there's an expectation that a black student would perform at a level that's different than a white student, and so they would get a different sort of teaching based on the distractions that are on the table. What do we know about that?
>> Angel Harris: Yeah, I think that that's getting toward what the problem is. It's getting toward that, so if I hear your question correctly about the expectation gap. The teachers may hold the kids. So, I, actually, knew you can ask that question, so here's for you.
>> You did say psychology.
>> Angel Harris: I read your mind. Numerous studies show that teachers' perceptions of academic success are not independent of culture considerations, right. So, disadvantaged minority groups -- disadvantaged minority groups are perceived as outsiders to the academic setting, okay. So, many studies show this, particularly qualitative -- qualitative studies. So, there's some studies that show that teachers favor whites and Asian cultural ethos versus other groups, and so teacher expectations favor white and Asian students over black and Latino students with comparable academic records. So, that's -- this comes from the world of psychology. There are also studies that show the elementary school teachers raise student's motivation and achievement who behaviorally manifest a European, or mainstream culture ethos, as greater relative to those with Afro-cultural ethos. This one is perhaps my favorite. So, for this study, let's take -- so, I'm just going to describe the study. So, you have a white kid and a black kid and you tell them hey, today you all are going to be white for the day and we're going to video record you being white for the day. You all know what that means, right. Be, you know, I mean come on. You know, what I'm saying, like, walking hey Bob, you know, being white for the day. You know what I'm talking about. Come on now, you all seen Chris Rock and you know the routines, you know. They were white for the day, you know, walking around straight, you know, everything, pants were right, you know, and they were white for the day, and they were being recorded. And then the next day they say you all are going to be black for the day. What does that mean? That's swagger, you know, they were cool, you know, they were chill, you know, pants were, you know, comfortable, they were comfortable, and that film was shown to teachers, and the teachers were asked to rate the kids on problem behaviors, the need for special education, and for achievement. The black for a day were worse on all three, just based on the video. These are -- these are capturing -- these are studies that capture the unconscious biases that teachers bring into the classroom with them, right. And so now, take this down to first and second graders, and the teachers coming into the classroom with this. They're not -- I'm not saying they're racists. It's racist, but you can have Racism Without Racists. This is a book by Bonilla-Silva. And so, they're coming into the classroom with this, and that could be driving some of this, right, that could be driving some this. And so, I think that that's in the direction of what the problem could be. Yep.
>> I was curious to find out how much legitimacy you put behind theories that say parental education and household income are the best predictors of success?
>> Angel Harris: So, how much weight do I give to theories that suggest that parents' background -- parental education is the best predictor of success, right?
>> [Inaudible audience response].
>> Angel Harris: Yeah, and whether FCS is a predictor of success. It is a predictor of success, it is, and it does -- I think that that's -- if parental involvement works, it's because of those factors, and not because I'm talking to the teacher, I'm sitting down reading to you, I'm doing this with you. It's not because all these little things that parents do. That's not what's really driving it, so here's the idea. If you spend 10 seconds walking through the home of someone who is in the worst area you could find. Just the hood -- go to the hood and walk through someone's home and where they have lack of resources -- 10 seconds, and then you walk through the home of an affluent, you know, business person or dean of a college -- 10 seconds. You say okay, if we're going to serve two kids in both of the spaces, without the parents even saying a word to the kid, in which space do you think learning is more conducive, right? So, it's, you know, you walk home, you pass the home office, you get in the car, NPR's playing, the average level education of your parents' friends above the national mean, you hear them verbally jousting, on what basis, what do you mean, you know, you're not even in the room It's osmosis -- it's you're picking it up through osmosis somewhere, you're getting it somewhere. And so, that parent will say oh, my kid is doing well and they could take credit of being involved, right, but they're living a lifestyle. Whether they had a kid or not they'd be living that lifestyle and that lifestyle is conducive to education. So, this is why children of preachers know the word more than other -- children of non-preachers. Children of academics do better academically. It isn't because academics are more involved, right. They're getting credit for something. They're accessing something that's class-related that they're getting credit for and they're attributing it to oh, it's my superior involvement. And my argument is that that's not really what's driving it, because if it were, it would show up empirically. The fact that it's not showing up empirically, but you do see this relationship between education -- parent's education and child's achievement, suggests that the mechanism is not these measures of parental involvement. Yep.
>> So, in thinking about pre-K, how would you rate parental involvement throughout a child's life? Do you think that at certain times it's more necessary, or matters more, than at other times?
>> Angel Harris: Does parental involvement matter earlier in life or at different stages of a kid's development? And...
>> [Inaudible audience response].
>> Angel Harris: Yeah.
>> [Inaudible audience response].
>> Angel Harris: Yes, the findings from the book -- it's not out yet. It's coming out fall of next year, Harvard Press. But in that book, the findings do show that the -- whatever benefits of parental involvement that are there they're stronger earlier on, right. However, is not -- they're not very strong, they're just stronger, relative to later on. Yeah. Yes.
>> I'm curious in your thoughts on the comparison. You showed the trajectory for a white student and a black student in school entry and what happened to their convergence over time, and so the role there -- the inference there is that schools are playing a considerable role in the widening gap. Compare that to the income achievement gap where it's barely wide at entry to school and only gets slightly wider. There's been some research that suggests schools are not really playing a role in that because children come to school lower FTS and higher FTS students with that gap fairly significantly large at kindergarten to first grade already. So, what are schools doing differently where they're not exacerbating the income achievement gap, but they are greatly exacerbating the racial achievement gap, even though we know that racial achievement gap has been decreasing slightly over the past 40 years, whereas the income achievement gap has been increasing over the same period of time?
>> Angel Harris: Okay, so, now I'm going to speculate. So, remember -- okay, so, remember when I -- remember when I showed you the SAT question, right? Where for, whatever reason, there's something that -- there's something that certain groups -- the way they navigate the world, this question resonates more, whatever it is. And the best think I can think of is there's a movie called Shallow Hal. In the movie called Shallow Hal, this was a move with Jack Black and someone put a spell on Jack Black because his character was very shallow. And so, he was into women because of the way they looked and so, a spell was placed on him and so now for the rest the movie, when he would interact with someone, he would see how they were on the inside. So, if it was a beautiful person on the inside, the camera showed him seeing, like, Beyonce, right, but everyone else might see, you know, what the person really looked like, right. So, that's the whole move was like that, right. And there are some people that looked horrible. They would have a person trying to look bad, but externally everyone else saw them as beautiful, but he saw the inside of them. So, he fell in love with a character played by Gwyneth Paltrow. And Gwyneth Paltrow put on a fat suit -- kind of like Eddie Murphy does with The Klumps. But her fat suit looked real. It wasn't like Eddie Murphy's, you know, it looked real, like a real person. So, that's how she really looked and everyone saw her that way, but he saw Gwyneth Paltrow. So, during the making of that movie, Gwyneth was interviewed and she mentioned that, you know, it takes hours to put on this suit and hours to take it down, so because of that, when she has it on, they try do as many takes as they can. And so, in-between takes she would walk around through the lobby of the hotel or whatever, and she mentioned, you know, for the first time in life, she realized the looks she was getting. People were staring at her and she was like I realized what it's like to live life in a body like this. And when she said that I thought an obese person would say yeah, that's my life. Not, you get it now, right. So, at living life that way for those few days or whatever, she was picking up -- the world was looking different to her. She was picking up new things about the world that were invisible to her previously, but that an obese person would see, right and vice versa. So, keep that in mind. So, what I'm saying is that schools are, kind of, pitched at a certain way of looking at the world, and you have folks who grow up in certain areas under certain conditions whose -- they're picking up different things and so when they come into the school, the things that the school is teaching toward, in terms of what's what they assume you're coming in with and what you're picking up, is incompatible with what these people are bringing in, right. And that -- the SAT question is, kind of, getting at that, right. And so, I think that's what's happening. I don't know how you fix that, right. I don't have a solution, but this is what we should be talking about, not oppositional culture as the cause of it. And that's, kind of, like my major point, is -- yeah.
>> So, I'm an instructor on campus, right, and I have students coming to me just talking about how they're discriminated against as a white person [inaudible], and right now [inaudible]. So, if you were on the Supreme Court, what would you be telling them?
>> Angel Harris: Yeah, well, I understand why people say that, right. I understand why people say that and, somehow I knew you were going to ask that. So, the reason why people say that is because we have drastically different views about race in the U.S., right. So, for example, how big a problem is racism in our society today? This is based on an ABC news poll in 2009. How big a problem is racism in our society today? These are whites, these are blacks. They say it's a problem -- whites, blacks -- a big problem -- whites, blacks. Half as many whites say it's a big problem as blacks. Do you think blacks have, or will soon achieve, racial equality? Whites -- blacks will never, not in my lifetime, achieve racial equality. Whites -- blacks. Personally ever felt discriminated against because of race. Whites -- blacks. Do you think blacks who live in your community have as good a chance as whites to get housing they can afford? Whites -- blacks. Get a job for which they're qualified? Whites -- blacks. Receive equal treatment as whites when they visit local businesses? Whites -- blacks. From the police? Whites -- blacks. Experience discrimination. Whites are fully aware that the rate of interracial marriage is going up, that the rate of discrimination in the labor market is going down, that the rate of discrimination -- you know, you can't you can use the N word anymore. They know all these patterns are happening, which contributes to this. Blacks are perceiving the world differently, you know, and, you know, racism is like the snake that gets losing your home. If someone puts a snake in your home and says you have to live there for a month with the snake lose in your home, when you hear a sound, was that the snakes? It was not the snake. Was the window open? You feel something bite your leg. Was that the snake? It was not the snake. And so black people perpetually live in the state of something happened. Was that because of race or not, right, and that's the day-to-day thing. And so, you have these different experiences, these different realities. And so, it makes sense that whites do say I'm being discriminated against because of racism. Because this rate -- blacks are no longer -- they're no barriers anymore. We don't need this anymore. What are they talking about? They're delusional, right. But when you're black, you're like, why is it that every time I show up to the building late at night, campus police is hovering around. What is that about? You see what I'm saying? So, I think what's happening is that in this country, this is -- black's descriptions of their encounters with prejudiced authorities are often disbelieved because many listeners, particularly whites, are aware that the proportion of people who hold prejudicial beliefs are declining. This triggers a cycle of many blacks doubting the integrity and commitment to justice of their white disbelievers, and of many whites doubting the integrity and even sanity of individuals whose descriptions of events invokes racism or discrimination. This is an asymmetry of experience which erects a difficult to scale the wall of misunderstanding between communities. And so, it this country, we are not really talking about race in a serious way. And so, this is the last thing I show you. So, here in the segregated black school, there's an internal dialogue. Blacks are talking about race. When you go into any black household, people are going to be talking about race. The black ones in the room know what they're saying, right. In the segregated white school, there's a dialogue to, but it's like this, right, because he's not a part of it. He's not a part of it. Hell, they're talking about him. So, what you end up having is, you end up having two dialogues, so what's in this circle, what's in this circle? White people, you can trust them. Oh, they wear shorts in the winter. Oh, they don't see their privilege. Oh, they stereotype us. Their race is in denial. That's part of, you know, these are things that black folks say. You all know this, right? I mean, you all didn't know this. Whites wear shorts in the winter.
>> [Inaudible audience response].
>> Angel Harris: Yeah, I know, isn't it? Then there's this white internal dialogue. I don't know what's in there. I don't know what goes on there. And so, but there's very little that shared in common, so it's that we're not having a real dialogue about race in this country. And so, because of that, it makes sense to me that this group -- some people in this group feel discriminated against. It makes sense to me that some people in this group feel angry and saying why don't you all see this, you know, because they're completely different realities that are happening. And the data is real from both sides. They're both seeing -- the data to them is real -- it's very real, but there's no serious interaction where a white person is allowed to say why do black people always do this that and the other. And they should be allowed to say that and people should say okay, this is how you feel, this is based on the data you've collected from your lived experience, let's interrogate this. Doesn't mean you're racist. Let's interrogate this, right. Because the minute they sense that you're going to call them a racist, they shut down, that's it, they disengage, nothing happens. The ball doesn't move forward. In this country where not really talking about race, and so I think that those are discussions that have to be had in order to understand why, you know, affirmative action is still necessary. Why it's similar to the GI Bill. Why it's similar to bills like that in the past that were thought of as nation-building, right. And so, affirmative action is, in a sense nation-building, it just is benefiting a different group. And so, we have to have these discussions. I think that's part of the reason why. We're not having a real discussion about race in this country.
>> So, unfortunately, this is our last question.
>> Angel Harris: Okay, last question.
>> I have two questions, actually. I paid attention to your presentation. You didn't say that the [inaudible] can determine academic success later in life, so what steps can be done to ensure that one who is behind in high school can still achieve in college and in a professional career, and how would you say that going -- attending Grambling State [inaudible] may or may not have benefited you as opposed to attending PWC or the University of Michigan for undergrads?
>> Angel Harris: Yeah, that's a tough question. That's a tough question. I think, for me, I could -- so, one way I hear that is, how is it that, you know, I was able to, you know, go from being a bad student to being a Princeton professor, right? I could give you an answer, but in all likelihood, that probably wasn't the thing that did it. I honestly don't know what did it. The stars lined up, the ball bounced right, and, you know, what in every group with everything in life there's a distribution. With height, most people are average height. You have people who are really, really short and people who are really, really tall but there's a distribution with most people around the average. Someone has to be the top of that distribution, and so I lived in the projects. There are people who will make it out of there. I happen to be one of those people who made it out of there, right, but that's -- in some sense, that's random noise in the data, right, because the pattern suggests that that's not the norm, right, and so when it's not the norm, there's always a story there, right. And those stories, it's hard to implement them in a systematic way because the stars lined up, so to speak. So, I don't know what happened, I don't know. I'm riding the wave, but I don't know what happened. You know what I'm saying.
>> Do you shift the curve though, that's the question, right?
>> Angel Harris: Right, right, right, and so, I think that for me if I had to contribute it to something that did it for me intellectually, academically it was the example that the psychology professor gave about empiricism. It introduced me to the concept of empiricism and it completely changed how I took in -- it changed the lens through which I viewed the world. I took in everything differently, I filtered thinks differently. I don't know what that thing is for each person, right, so that's the first thing. How did Grambling State -- that's another tough question because, again with everything, there's a distribution. I mean Grambling State -- you know, I love Grambling State and it's great, but at the end of the day, they do have a 36% graduation rate, as do many are commuter schools, regional colleges. The U.S. average is very low. The U.S. average is something in the forties, in terms of percent -- college graduation rate. The Michigan and the UCLA and Berkeley 80%, that's not real. That's not the norm. That's not reality. The real world out there is somewhere in the forties. And so, it's a 36% graduation rate institution and again, there's a distribution, and within that distribution, there's going to be a valedictorian, and that valedictorian's going to be a pretty good student, regardless of where they go. And so, I was toward the top of that distribution. So again, I don't know -- in other words, I don't know how to make certain things systematic, right. It's a complicated issue. It's like cancer. All I can do now is try to take on narratives one by one and say okay, is it this, is it not this? Is it this, is it not this? Let -- where should we -- what should we be talking about? Where should we be having the fruitful discussion? And so, that's all I can do. Thanks.
[ Applause ]